Review: Sydney to Suva QF343 / FJ940
Series: First Time in Fiji
- Booking for Fiji – one seat from one bucket, and one seat from another
- Qantas Business Class Lounge – Fiji Airways
- Review: Sydney to Suva QF343 / FJ940
- Grand Pacific Hotel Suva
- Suva – not a tourist mecca – but tropical
- Suva to Labasa on Vanua Levu, Fiji on an ATR
Sydney (SYD) – Suva (SUV)
Sunday, 17 September
Duration: 4 hours 10 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 737-700
Seat: 2D (Business Class)
When we arrived at the gate – as usual fearing we might be late – boarding had yet to commence. As it turned out, the flight was running late due to the late arrival of the aircraft. Strangely – all my alerts (Kayak etc) assured me that the flight was on time. That just demonstrates that I should have been monitoring on Plane Finder or similar app.
Boarding started about 11:35 – with little regard for premium or priority boarding.
It was odd being on an aircraft I associate with short-haul domestic flights, and realising this was servicing a 4 to 5-hour route. The poor flight attendant staffing the business section had a tiny working area to perform their magic.
Business class on this aircraft is only 8 seats over two rows in a 2-2 configuration. We had seats 2C and 2D. The seats themselves are what I think of as old-fashioned business seats, with manual controls. On each seat was a pillow with that great pattern that’s part of Fiji Airways branding, on some were blankets, with headphones in the seat pockets.
The foot and leg rest controls, didn’t seem to operate fully, the recline was OK, and I didn’t have cause to use the Lumbar button.
Business class headphones – I didn’t open the packet – since I didn’t plan on using them.
Ipads were offered to business class passengers – which I think means that these in-seat monitors and volume controls were inoperable.
I declined the Ipad, as I had a novel to read, work to do, and some sleep to catch up on.
As you can see this wasn’t the newest plane.
Pre-flight we were offered water, a rum cocktail or fruit mocktail before takeoff. I have a certain reputation to maintain, so the choice was obvious – rum cocktail – which was surprisingly delicious. Other than in Northern Norway, or obviously Cuba I am not usually a rum drinker, but this gave me pause and has me considering buying some rum based liqueurs duty-free on our return.
Warm towels were offered pre-takoff. They were thick and hot – compared to the thin translucent things you mostly get offered. I usually like the aisle seat, and had been allocated 2D – but decided to swap with Mickaeli to more easily take photos during the flight. Bottles of Fiji water were also waiting in our seat pockets , with our flight attendant double checking that everyone had one.
At 11:59 our pilot advised us that we would be getting underway shortly, and apologised for our delayed departure due to the late arrival of the aircraft.
Our flight attendant distributed Fiji immigration cards and offered us the Fiji Times, or the Sydney Morning Herald from the previous day (Saturday).
Cabin doors closed at 12:06. The safety video played at 12:09 on overhead drop-down screens under the overhead luggage compartments. We pulled back from our sky bridge at 12:11 and taxied towards our runway.
There were 4 or 5 planes set to take off before us, including a couple of Qantas domestic flights, a Rex regional flight and a Cebu Pacific A330-300.
We took our position at the beginning of the runway at 12:40 and commenced our takeoff a minute or two later on runway 16R.
The Flight Service
Menu’s for the flight were distributed before takeoff, for ordering after takeoff. The menu cover set the scene for our pacific island sojourn:
The menu covered Breakfast, Main Course (this flight) beverages and their philosophy:
Sorry for the slightly blurred image, but it was the Laucala Sour that we were served as our pre-flight drink. We will be searching for those two kinds of rum in the Duty Free on our way home.
Next the soft drinks:
And the Tea and Coffee:
And more importantly the wine:
And the breakfast menu – for the other morning flight
And finally, the Main Course selection:
First up another round of warm towels, and a glass of the Prince Laurent Champagne, along with some salty snacks – which were extremely moreish (eaten and cleared by the time the image was taken below), and then our lunch orders were taken at about 1 pm, once the plane had levelled out.
Next, our tables were draped with a branded grey cloth, and our first course was served on a tray, together with my glass of Margret River Chardonnay.
We were offered three types of bread rolls, ciabatta, sourdough, and soy linseed – I chose the sourdough.
The salad – green leaves, quinoa, craisins (dried cranberries), and a French dressing. I am not a fan of quinoa – but I ate half, and it was fine – much lighter than it looks.
I went with the Chicken, which perfectly fine – and very filling.
The main course was cleared promptly, and then we were offered dessert or cheese. I opted for cheese. Sorry no image of this, but three kinds of cheese – one soft, one hard, and one orange – with dried figs, grapes, and crackers. The soft (a brie?) and the hard (chedder style) were fine. The ‘orange’ was a bit metalic and commercial. I left most of the orange alone.
The meal service finished with another round of those warm thick fluffy towels.
After declining an offer of tea or coffee, these milk chocolates were distributed:
The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. I nodded off. It had been a long day and I think I was still recovering from the night before.
Oddly, we were requested to complete the survey below. I am fairly sure we were the only ones in Business class asked to complete it. I have survey fatigue (‘Last chance to tell us what you thought of your recent stay/flight/experience with us . . .) – so left it to Mickaeli to complete.
At about 6 pm, the captain requested the crew prepare for landing.
I quickly went to the toilet, which hd been kept clean, but like the rest of the plane interior (except seat covers) was showing its age.
We had another round of warm towels – I don’t think I have ever had so many!
Our flight attendant collected entertainment iPads and was asked by the flight crew to be seated about 6:10 pm as the sun set over the islands – which we could see after descending under these clouds.
Many passengers back in Economy applauded on touchdown at about 6:21 pm. Last time I heard that was on a rather turbulent flight in China.
We taxied to the end of the runway and then turned right coming to a stop right outside the single-story terminal building about 6:23 pm.
It didn’t take long for us to exit via the front left door, and cross the tarmac to the terminal. Given this is the Pacific, customs, and immigration ‘informalities’ were over pretty quickly. Although strangely there were three immigration stations, each staffed by two people, but only one station seemed to be operating – maybe that changed as more passengers arrived.
Naturally – our ‘priority’ luggage was not the first to come through the baggage claim. Still, it was only 10 or 15 minutes before we were outside the terminal, meeting the man with our names on a sign, who would deliver us to our car, which would deliver us to our hotel – all in lovely tropical warmth. Next stop – about 25 minutes away – the Grand Pacific Hotel.
Fiji Airways does not deploy their newest aircraft on this ‘secondary’ route Sydney to Suva. Remember that although Suva is the nation’s capital and administrative centre, most tourists from Sydney would fly to Nadi, then move on by plane or car to one of the resorts or other islands.
The newish Fiji Airways livery is very pacific islands while avoiding the cliches of hibiscus and frangipani flowers and colours. The black and terracotta for the aircraft and the aqua and brown for the interiors, cushions, and uniforms are modern and appealing.
Service was attentive, warm, but relaxed and easy. Nothing remarkable, but extremely pleasant. I would definitely travel on Fiji Airways in Business class on the 737-700 again.